Photo of Runner with Knee Pain


Runners Knee, or more properly Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome is one of the more common runners knee injuries. It is characterised by knee pain localised around the kneecap. Once diagnosed, it is fortunately relatively easy to cure in most cases with a combination of appropriate footwear and/or corrective knee exercises.


The knee pain usually comes on while running, and often after a specific distance has been covered. Long runs and races may make these knee problems worse, and walking up and down stairs or sitting still for long periods can also cause discomfort.


Runners Knee pain used to be thought to be due to degeneration of the joint cartilage on the underside of the kneecap – a condition known as chondromalacia patella. It is now known however that this is not the case, and it is most likely caused by a bruising of the bone where the ligament inserts into the patella (kneecap). Contrary to popular belief in some circles, it is also now known that runners are at no higher risk of developing osteoarthritis of the knee.

Photo of Runner Being Examined for Knee Injuries


Runners with this knee injury are advised to reduce training volume and ice the knee twice daily. Over-the-counter anti-inflamatory medicines (eg asprin) are also sometimes recommended, but it is not advisable to take these prior to running. Historically, cortisone injections may have been prescribed for runners knee problems, or even surgery, but neither of these are now thought to be appropriate in the majority of cases of runners knee.

In seeking a longer term cure for the condition, it is thought that running shoes designed to limit over-pronation of the ankle can be of great benefit. Also the use of specially designed orthotic inserts can help to correct the biomechanics that contribute to these knee injuries.

Knee Exercises that strengthen the quadriceps muscles and therefore correct an imbalance between these and the hamstrings can help prevent recurrence, as can those which strengthen the vastus medialis muscle (eg chair squats) provided they don’t cause any discomfort. Wearing a knee support is said by many sufferers to be beneficial during the recovery phase.

The Lore of Running by Doctor Timothy Noakes, and the other books featured opposite contain information on the specifics of treatment and are highly recommended.

It is hoped that the information given here will assist runners with knee pain, but it is not designed to be a replacement for appropriate consultation with qualified healthcare professionals who will be able to make specific diagnoses and formulate individual treatments plans for knee problems and knee injuries.

References/Further Reading:

Lore of Running, fourth edition - Doctor Timothy Noakes (ISBN 978-0-87322-959-3). Click here to buy this superb book from Amazon

The Runners’ Repair Manual - Doctor Murray F Weisenfield with Barbara Burr (ISBN 978-0-312-6959-2 )

Runners Knee - the Web's Best Source of Information on Runner's Knee Runners Knee - Knee Pain Localised Around the Kneecap

Is it Runner's Knee?